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Review GSM phone LG F1200
Now the company of LG lacks a top model that could become the leader. At that we're speaking about a leader of the product line, since the absence of memory cards, megapixel cameras and other modern features makes LG products look inexpressive against a background of its rivals. And mainly the development inertia and the problems found several years ago tell upon. Now the company strives for representing its new strategy and releaseing the maximum of interesting products. These products are based on the old platform version and have strict restrictions. But even taking these facts into consideration we sometimes see rather interesting products for certain target groups. The F1200 can be bravely referred to such solutions, that is the most functional device by the company for today. Do not be confused with the numbers in the index, since a paradoxical situation developed in the F segment, the more functional and expensive the device is the lower index it has. For instance, the LG F2300 costs less than the LG F2100 and correspondingly is much cheaper than the F1200 discussed now. In other indexes the company's logics is different, a greater number means elder model which is traditional for all the manufacturers. This reshuffle with the names is quite incomprehensible and gives little clue to a customer that known a little about LG products.
The LG F1200 was developed as some kind of an answer to the Samsung E720, and the latter one is positioned as a fashion device with musical capabilities, the ad company slogan sounds like "Temptation of sound". Musical capabilities mean much memory, integrated mp3 player and a possibility to control it from the external panel of the clamshell. The E720 is based on the Samsung D500 and has incomparably different capabilities, that is the device of another generation. Directly compared with the Samsung product the F1200 looses almost in all the characteristics. Here is the absent camera, less memory, bigger size of the device, less qualitative screen, the absence of Bluetooth, organizer for 20 entries, 600 KB for games against 4 MB in the E720. The list is rather long, but we should also point out the F1200 has advantages over the E720, we'll tell about them later. But generally we speak about the fact the previous generation model is positioned at the same price level as the E720 without corresponding characteristics. The price policy of the F1200 is wrong, and the customers overpay for it considerably. But decreasing the price for LG F1200 seems impossible, since elder models then will have to fall in price. Which is curious, the price of the C-series is close to the market realities, but that didn't happen to the F1200 for some reason. Then let's pass to the device and consider its design.
The phone is large and resembles the last Nokia models but lacks metal, the body material is plastic. The weight is quite comfortable at the same time and forms 101 grams. However its size prevents from speaking about great number of women among the target group (95x49x24), which is not for the fair sex. As for me, the consumer ratio will ordinarily form 90 to 10 (men to women). And then it's more surprising the main body colour is blue that matches the silvery front panel. Considering the colour solution, the manufacturer oriented on women the most, but in the end some trouble with the colour and the dimensions appears. The back of the phone is in titanic colour.
The device lies rather well in hands and may be opened with one hand quite easily. Two loudspeakers providing stereo sound are carried out to the front panel. And a similar solution we saw in the F2100. No evident improvements were carried out as compared with this phone; the sound may be called stereo at a stretch and at that only for preset melodies. Finding new files with a support for these two loudspeakers seems hard, since the company provides none. Own melodies sound a bit louder but not more.
A VGA-camera objective is placed between the loudspeakers, which forms an evident anachronism in a leading model. The camera module doesn't differ from the ones in many other LG phones.
The external screen is 65K (TFT), 96x96 pixels. The display is good and bright, though it fades in the sun, information can be read still. That may be considered some kind of an innovation, the external screen is on the level of the best examples of today. You can set a personal headband, a standard set of four pictures is included. The brightness of the external screen is limited due to energy saving reasons, it's not the maximum. The picture vivacity is lost in some degree, but still remains good for such a screen.
The buttons responsible for the mp3 player are under the screen, two rewind buttons and a play/pause one. They are quite comfortable and rouse no cavils.
You can see an interface connector on the bottom end, it is standard and coincides with other company models. A strap hole is placed on the top of the phone. A volume button is placed on the left-side surface, the button is long and narrow thus unpleasant to work with. A fully-functional IrDA is on the right side, a camera button is upper and then a headset connector. That is the first time the company applied a miniUSB slot, it is closed with a shutter fixed to the body.
A remote controller connected to the headset connector is included into the kit. And the headset having a standard connector is connected to it in its turn. The solution is good for that reason it theoretically allows using any earphones by a third party manufacturer. But practically that is impossible due to the raised plastic around the slot. As a result the majority of the earphones don't go into the slot completely, and the best you have is mono sound. Own earphones are quite comfortable and give not bad sounding. The controller holds buttons to control the player and volume level. At a call the phone automatically stops playing melodies and resumes after the call is over. A SIM-card holder is standard in this model.
A large screen is placed inside the phone. According to the manufacturer it is 262K. Some reshuffle has happened with screen chroma in the last LG models, it is claimed 65K for some models and 262K for others. Really there is no difference between these screens, the resolutions and physical size are equal, the picture looks the same way. This is a pure marketing accounted on not many people will put the devices near each other to compare the screens. The resolution is 128x160 pixels that allows showing up to 7 text lines and one service line (SMS mode).
The keypad is of plastic with large and comfortable keys. A mechanic click is heard when pressing them, many people like it. The backlighting is blue, and symbols on the keys are seen not in all the conditions. The central row is painted in silver colour vertically, that is a good solution from the design point of view, and a bad from the ergonomics one. A navi pad is 4D with an Ok button in it. Two separate buttons are responsible for the camera and the mp3 player.
The back cover closing the battery compartment has almost no backlash (or it is insignificant). The battery is 1050 mAh, the capacity is a bit increased as compared with other models (the majority of the phones are provided with a 950-mAh one). According to the manufacturer the battery is capable of 210 hours of standby time and up to 3 hours of talk time. In Moscow the phone worked for about 4 days (40 minutes of talks totally, up to 20 minutes of other functions). Talking for 25-30 minutes a day and using no other functions allowed 5 days of battery life. Full battery recharging takes 2.5 hours. The device will work only for 2 days in case of 4 hours of listening to the mp3 player and 30 minutes of talks a day. That is quite an acceptable battery life.
The main menu is represented by three rows of. The pictures are qualitative, look well and that makes the phone pleasant to use. Submenus look like lists and the items that may not be disposed on the screen are scrolled automatically in a horizontal line. There is a fast navigation with the help of number sequences. In addition you can select up to 9 functions for a personal list called by moving the button up.
Phonebook. There is a possibility to save up to 255 names in internal memory, up to 5 fields for a name (3 numbers, one e-mail address and a note). Also you may choose a users' group and an icon. The icons are preset pictures of people's faces and animals. During the call a chosen picture will be displayed besides a name on the screen. There is a possibility to assign a photo to a name but it should be saved in a minimal size first.
Messages. There is a support for EMS that allows attaching melodies, pictures to messages, formatting text and sending concatenated messages. The phone supports predictive text input T9 (a possibility to add your words into the dictionary). Totally up to 120 messages may be stored and 10 delivery reports as well.
The device supports MMS and the company made it possible to format several pages, insert several pictures instead of one. The space for MMS forms 1.5 MB.
Call lists. Here one may view standard lists of outgoing, incoming and missed calls. Each one contains 10 numbers, for some entries date and time of the call are specified. Similar numbers are summed up but not displayed in order. There is a general call list, 20 last entries from all the lists are summed up there. And this list is displayed when pressing the Call button from the standby mode.
Profiles. All the sounds may be adjusted from here, from a call signal to a key press sound and alert type. Everything is traditional.
Settings. Phone settings such as the screen, call signals. Everything is quite ordinary.
Organizer. It is possible to save up to 20 events in the organizer and a date and time for the alert are set. You also may set it recurrent (every day, week, month, and year). Calendar displays the whole month, the dates with set events are distinguished with another colour and a sign indicating the type of the event (meeting or a memo) appears in the bottom. The second event type is a memo that is also included into a general list of 20 events. The main minus of the organizer is a limited number of entries. A to-do list comes as a separate point; it differs from a usual memo in nothing.
Alarm clock. It is the only, but there daily, weekly and monthly repetitions. A melody is chosen for it.
Notes. You can create small personal notes.
Tools. Here is a standard calculator, a unit converter, world time function and a dictaphone (works only in the standby mode with up to 19 seconds for a record).
My Stuff. Folders with melodies and applications are here. There are two games in the phone, they are BoardMania and Halloween Fever.
The same menu is responsible for accessing the 64 MB of memory used for mp3 melodies and other data. Memory is represented as a separate drive (from the phone's position) and may be seen directly on a PC having a USB cable from the kit. The realization is close to the one of the LG G1800, it's not bad, and the phone serves as an external drive. You'll need to enter a code from the menu in order to the device was recognized as a data carrier on your PC. While working with the memory the very phone module is off, and the phone is out of network. The USB version is 1.1, however that is not critical at such little memory.
Multimedia. The MP3 player may be run both by pressing a corresponding button and from the menu. Unlike the LG G1800 the player doesn't' work in the standby mode, the application can't be minimized. Track list is quite simple and easier to form on PC. The player supports ID3 tags even including Russian language. Melodies may be either reproduced via a headset or via a loudspeaker. There are equalizers in the phone.
Karaoke. The screen possibilities applied for the karaoke are not high, it holds only two lines and more, the second line is shown on the top causing confuse. No points are given as the result of your singing, the manufacturer thinks you can estimate your possibilities by yourself. The function is predicted for entertaining in the company and may draw attention to you for a while. It's not a break for a mobile phone in any way. New melodies are downloaded from the LG site. As we said earlier, the application gets mass on all the LG phones not only those equipped with several loudspeakers.
Service. Service. The device supports GPRS class 10 that is why I'd recommend adjusting wap-browser using batch communications, which will be cheaper. The only thing to add is that the wap-browser is 2.0 version. The thing that disappointed is the absence of history, it is often necessary to enter the same address again. Downloading melodies and pictures makes no troubles and the same for applications.
Camera. An integrated camera allows to take photos with several resolutions, they are 48x48 pixels (used only in the phone book), 160x120, 320x240, 640x480 pixels. File format is JPG, it is possible to choose a compression level and quality (high, medium, low) for all the resolutions except the maximum one. The quality for 640x480 is only low.
The screen serves as a viewfinder in the shooting mode. There is a tool panel on the left and there you may choose the main parameters for shooting, it is particularly comfortable to do that using a side button for volume level adjustment. Not all the chosen settings are saved till the next shooting, one has to adjust them again and it is a slight disadvantage.
The photos may be black and white, colour and also Sepia effect may be applied. There are 5 light levels and x4 zoom.
One of the preset frames may be used when shooting, that is, for instance, combining a friend's face with a body of a pretty girl or a body-builder.
In general the photos are not bad. And by the way there is a possibility to view photos as icons and having chosen one you may see it in a full screen size.
The taken photos may be used as wallpapers for the internal screen. The quality of the photos on the screen of a PC is not so bad but also not very good. If to compare with similar products by other manufacturers the camera by LG is average in characteristics.
Synchronization with PC. Besides synchronization via a cable that is not included into the package the manufacturer provided a wireless one via IrDA. The settings are rather trivial and everything works without troubles. There is a wide range of melodies, pictures for the screen in the standby mode (wallpapers) besides Java programs on the disk.
There is a possibility to synchronize phone book and organizer entries with a PC, there is synchronization with MS Outlook.
The manufacturer claims 64-tones polyphony for the device, however no real difference from the 40-tones one are observed, it's hard to hear and most probable is absent at all. The melodies sound well, but the general volume is low, though higher for preinstalled samples and lower for mp3 files that can also be used for a call signal. Compared with the Sony Ericsson S600 the phone looses approximately two times in volume, however taking the Motorola E398 into consideration, then it is about one and a half time louder. Hearing the device outdoors is possible, it's not low at all, but shows no differences from the models with one loudspeaker. Its vibracall is average in power.
Now the phone costs approximately 330-340 USD. The price is inadequate due to the absence of many modern functions, and the only advantages over younger models of its own product line are the presence of control buttons for the mp3 player, 64 MB of internal memory and work as a USB drive. That is quite little for this serious price gap. The Samsung E720 is much better, fashion component is immeasurably more and the size is more pleasant. The price is 20-30 USD higher for this device, which is insignificant for this price segment.
To tell the truth, I see no sense in buying the LG F1200, if only you are not the brand worshiper. The price/quality ratio is inadequate, and generally the phone should be treated as a pilot balloon, rolling of the technology that accidentally entered the series. The general impression of the device is quite pleasant, however poor characteristics and the disconnectedness of some functions really upset. The model is suitable for youngsters and young people who do not count their money yet and can buy phones impactly, not considering this buying from the position of common sense.
Published 30 June 2005
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